Daily Reflection
December 11th, 2000
John Horn, S.J.
Institute for Priestly Formation
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Isaiah 35:1-10
Psalms 85:9-14
Luke 5:17-26

“The desert and parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom.  They will bloom with abundant flowers and rejoice with joyful song.  The glory of Lebanon will be given to them, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God.  Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not!  Here is your God….”  

(Isaiah 35:1-4) 

To really be able to rejoice and to sing a joyful song we need to be tasting inside our hearts a real sense of our own beauty alive in Jesus, the Christ.

If we prayerfully place ourselves in the nativity scene and listen for what arises inside us, we can enter into an amazing preparation for this Christmas.

We see “the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God,” in that holy scene of Jesus’ birth.  By grace that is actively desiring to save us from any smoldering self-disgust, or self-blame within us, the Holy Spirit in the scriptures places you and me in the reality of Mary’s arms to receive her warmth and love.  The Living Word also invites us to feel, think about and savor Joseph’s faith-filled tender care.  And, if we allow the imagination of our hearts to be connected with reality, with God in Jesus’ birth, we can listen and hear the angels sing over the stories of our own individual births. 

God is affectionately reaching out to us, calling out to us through Isaiah’s words to see and taste Christ’s beauty alive in our hearts as we prepare for Christmas.  Who are we to judge ourselves as ugly or not worthy?  Left to ourselves this is what we are, but in Jesus we receive a new judgement that reveals the beauty of Jesus’ Spirit Indwelling in us.  

If, when we pray with the nativity, we find that we are not able to see ourselves placed within this holy scene, there is a high probability that we have not been paying attention inside our hearts to the abiding, loving presence of Jesus’ words.  Perhaps it is also true that we need to receive healing forgiveness for holding on to our self-definitions.  So often what we think, feel and judge to be fearful or ugly clouds God’s Truth and Beauty in the Infant Jesus.  Inner self-disgust and self-blame so often prevent us from hearing God’s rejoicing and singing joyful songs over us.

“Be strong, fear not!  Here is our God…,”  the God-man who reveals to us the beauty of what we fear most, our real infant-like frailty, whatever our age.  The Infant Jesus reveals that human frailty is holy and God-like!  This Advent our heart’s inner life can be ignited to make our active life burn with brilliant, radiant love.  May we taste and see anew our own beauty alive in Christ’s frailty as we say “yes” to being placed with the Infant Jesus in that living scene of the nativity to receive what He received in God’s care.

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